A group of Jewish activists set sail for the Gaza Strip yesterday, intent on defying an Israeli blockade and highlighting the suffering of Palestinians who live in the territory. Nine activists from Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States left Famagusta port in northern Cyprus with a small quantity of aid aboard their British-flagged catamaran. Uninterrupted, their trip to Gaza would take around 24 hours.

“I want to raise my voice against evil and draw attention to 1.5 million people under siege. This is inhuman,” said Rami Elhanan, an Israeli peace activist who lost his 14-year-old daughter, Smadar, to a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997.

Israel, whose Gaza policies have been under scrutiny since its marines killed nine Turkish activists in brawls aboard an aid ship on May 31, dismissed the mission as a “provocation.”
Since May, Israel has eased land crossing into Gaza but maintains the naval blockade in what it says is an effort to stop arms being smuggled to Palestinian Hamas guerrillas.